"IN THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS"
"Keep me as the apple of Thy eye, hide me under the shadow of Thy wings" (Ps. 17.8)
INTRO.: A song which pictures the protection that Christians have in Christ as being hidden under the shadow of God’s wings is "In The Shadow of His Wings" (#491 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by a Methodist preacher born in New York state named Jonathan Bush Atchinson (1840-1882). The tune was composed by Edwin Othello Excell (1851-1892). The song was copyrighted by Excell in 1882. Atchinson and Excell also collaborated on the familiar invitation sing, "There’s A Stranger At The Door."
Among hymnbooks published during the twentieth century by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, "In the Shadow of His Wings" appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson. Today, so far as I know, it is found only in the 1956 Sacred Selections edited by Ellis J. Crum.
The song mentions some of the spiritual blessings that we have in the shadow of the Lord’s wings.
I. Stanza 1 talks about rest
"In the shadow of His wings There is rest, sweet rest;
There is rest from care and labor, There is rest for friend and neighbor;
In the shadow of His wings There is rest, sweet rest,
In the shadow of His wings There is rest."
A. Jesus promises rest for those who come to Him: Matt. 11.28-30
B. This rest is from care and labor: Rev. 14.13
C. This rest is for friend and neighbor because it is offered to all those who will be faithful to the Lord: Heb. 4.1-10
II. Stanza 2 talks about peace
"In the shadow of His wings There is peace, sweet peace,
Peace that passeth understanding, Peace, sweet peace that knows no ending;
In the shadow of His wings There is peace, sweet peace,
In the shadow of His wings There is peace."
A. Jesus promises peace to those who are His disciples: Jn. 14.27, 16.33
B. This is a peace which passes understanding and will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus: Phil. 4.6-7
C. It is also a peace that knows no ending because it is from God: Rom. 5.1
III. Stanza 3 talks about joy
"In the shadow of His wings There is joy, glad joy;
There is joy to tell the story, Joy exceeding, full of glory;
In the shadow of His wings There is joy, glad joy,
In the shadow of His wings There is joy."
A. Jesus promises joy to those who who keep His commandments: Jn. 15.10-11
B. This joy will enable His people to tell the story of salvation to others: Acts 13.52
C. This joy is indescribably and full of glory: 1 Pet. 1.8
CONCL.: The chorus reviews and summarizes the thoughts presented in the stanzas:
"There is rest (sweet rest), There is peace (sweet peace),
There is joy (glad joy), In the shadow of His wings;
There is rest (sweet rest), There is peace (sweet peace),
There is joy, In the shadow of His wings."
There is a little bit more repetition in this song that would be considered advisable under normal circumstances. But at least it is not the mindless repetition, over and over again, of the same words but a repetition that continues the flow of thought and makes sense. It is good to be reminded that we can certainly be thankful for the rest, peace, and joy that we have "In The Shadow Of His Wings."